On the protection of children entrusted to our churches
August 21st, 2018 / By: Jim Richards | Executive Director / comments
The heartbreaking report of a Pennsylvania grand jury alleging that 300 Catholic priests sexually abused 1,000 people in their care over the course of 70 years should be an occasion of grief and an alert to churches of all types. This violation of such a high trust is horrible, whether it is in a Catholic church or a Baptist one. Although Baptist churches do not stand in an authority relationship with one another that allows the same kind of cover up the Catholics have experienced, some of our churches have failed to protect children. I affirm SBC President J.D. Greear in his call for “bold steps” to prevent sexual abuse in our ministries. It is a call for pastors, church leaders and congregations to take seriously the risks and reality of destructive sin in our own ministries.
Pastors must recognize their own mortality and need to strive for holy living. They must not neglect their own souls and relationships with God. The sexual abuse of those in our ministries begins as a spiritual problem.
Church leaders must be diligent to ensure that staff ministers and all those who minister to children and youth have a criminal background check before they begin that service to the church. This is common sense, a legal imperative in our day and a moral obligation to those who trust their children to our churches.
Congregations must ensure that policies and practices are in place and strictly implemented to protect the integrity of the church’s ministry and the safety of children. Churches should also recognize that their pastors are also brothers in Christ who need encouragement as they grow in godliness.
The Southern Baptists of Texas Convention is prepared with help for churches that need to implement wise safeguards within their ministries. Our Church Ministries department regularly helps churches across the state in this work. Additionally, the SBTC has scheduled a Sexual Abuse Summit to address this issue. The conference is October 23 at Christ Chapel Bible Church in Fort Worth and you can register by calling us at 817.552.2500 or going to sexualabusesummit.com.
We must all recognize and address this tragic failure on the part of some of our churches to ensure basic protection for those entrusted to our spiritual nurture. I pray and believe that we can work together to end sexual abuse in our churches.